I’ve been here for 72 hours and I’ve already learned a great deal. In light of my new-found knowledge, I thought I’d share a few Starkville tidbits with you — just in case you ever decide to venture down to our new neck of the woods.
1. You can’t buy wine in the grocery store, but you can buy cold beer on Sundays. You can only buy beer and/or wine till 10:00 in the evening, however. So don’t event think about that midnight B – Double E – Double R – U – N.
2. The people here love you. They do. They love everyone. They are some of the friendliest people on the planet. They smile, they make conversation, they hold the door for you when your arms are full of groceries (sans wine). They invite you over for dinner after you’ve visited for a mere five minutes. Their kids shake your hand and call you “Ms. Katrina.” Starkvillians love life.
3. You will sweat. The heat here is intense. I’m a sweater by nature — always have been. Even when I was lean and mean and carrying less than 5% body fat, I was still a sweater. But I didn’t truly know what sweating was until we moved to Mississippi in July. After a four mile walk (because I haven’t yet figured out how to run through the humidity — I feel that might require a knife and a fork), I inevitably end up with fingers that look like sausages. And I swear to you that your eyeballs will sweat. Pinky promise.
4. You’ll learn to appreciate your husband and your kids. You’ll look at them with different eyes when you’re in a different place. You’ll stop and listen to what your children have to say. You’ll appreciate the perfect friend and partner that your husband is. You’ll love calling him “Doctor” when you’re lying beside him on your air mattress (because the movers don’t arrive with your bed for another week). You’ll slow down. You’ll savor the moments. You’ll picnic on the floor and play “Apples to Apples.” You’ll love them all more deeply than you ever thought possible.
5. You’ll learn right away that one-syllable names do not exist in the South. (You warned us, Jan. I know.) The name Lynn = Ly-yn. “Leann?” I asked. “No, Honey, not Leann. Ly-yn.” A very subtle difference. Same number of syllables, different vowel sound.
6. When running errands in Starkville, you must build a minimum of an extra 45 minutes into your journey. No one here is in a hurry. No. One. The clerk at Kroger is not in a hurry. The Sonic server is not in a hurry. The waitress at Chili’s just might sit down and share a meal with you. There is conversation to be had, weather to be discussed, tall tales to tell. There is no hurrying.
7. The paint lady at Lowes will gladly mix 14 color samples for you. Then when you walk in three hours later — sweaty and frustrated and disheveled — she’ll cackle across the aisle and tell you that you’ve already used your daily allotment of paint samples. Then she’ll smile while you hand her eight more swatches, and she’ll throw extra paint stirrers into the mix. Then she’ll wave goodbye and yell, “See you tomorrow!” when you leave.
8. Your black dog will pant dramatically every time she even LOOKS outside. The yellow dog will continue to bark, but She with the Black Fur will be too busy trying to find the air conditioner and cursing the day you were born.
9. Your friends will call you multiple times a day, and they’ll still sound like they’re only a few miles away. You’ll comfort yourself by pretending that if you wanted to go meet them for lunch at Sweet and Savory, you could. You’re just too busy painting.
10. Getting your Mom up and running with her first Internet provider affects her phone line and all but ruins her life. While you’re talking with her, the call will drop. Then she’ll call you back. Then it will drop again. Then she’ll have your step-father call you. And by the time he’s done chatting, the call will drop again. Then the final call will consist of your mom yelling at your step-dad for taking all of her alloted time before the inevitable call drop. And you’ll shake your head and wonder if they’ll ever figure out how to Skype.
11. On your second night in your new hometown, you’ll make a desperate call your best friend in the midst of an emotional breakdown. You’ll wail to her on the phone, you’ll cry about how lonely you are, you’ll curl up in the fetal position and tell her you CAN’T DO IT. And she’ll talk some sense into you. She’ll coax you off the ledge. She’ll make you laugh, she’ll remind you of how truly blessed you are, she’ll come to your emotional rescue. And you will thank her. And you will mean it with all your heart.
12. You’ll like being called “Ma’am.”
13. You’ll ban the phrase, “It’s so hot!” from your childrens’ vocabulary. “Embrace the heat!” you’ll encourage. “Think of how good all that sweating is for your skin!”
14. You’ll learn to appreciate BBQ. After all, you can’t swing a dead cat in Starkville without hitting a BBQ joint. And just for the record, it’s simply called “Q” here.
15. On the third day into your new adventure, the mailman will deliver a “Welcome to Your New Home” card from another beloved and best friend. The card will encourage you to embrace your journey, to make the most of every moment. It will also remind you to “Make new friends, but keep the old — one is silver, the other is gold.”
And you’ll take a deep breath and you’ll know how golden your life truly is.